Regulation in the supplement industry
The COVID 19 pandemic devastated a myriad of sectors and caused the recession of a plethora of economies all over the world. That being said, some industries boomed during the said pandemic, and the quintessence of this is the supplement industry.
The main reason behind this is that the pandemic exposed a major flaw in the nutritional habits of a lot of people. Thus, to compensate for what the nutrients that people were not getting from their regular diet, they turned to supplements to mitigate this discrepancy and boost their immune system.
However, the industry does need some regulation when it comes to the manufactures and the type of products the supplement manufacturers push into the market. Testing the products is one of the most efficient ways to do this.
What are supplements?
Supplements, essentially, are products that provide the body of the person who is taking them with nutrients such as minerals, vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids, or any other nutrient that the said person needs. They are more appropriately called dietary supplements as they compensate for what the person's diet has missed out on.
The proliferation of the number of people who used supplements was a huge boost for both the stakeholders and supplement users alike. This is because more people were put on to supplements, and they learned a new way to fix the nutritional deficiencies in their bodies.
That being said, the proliferation of the supplement industry during the pandemic period has ruffled a few feathers, and many people and organizations are looking for new ways to regulate the supplement industry, in order to protect human safety and health.
Why should the supplement industry be regulated?
All metrics show that the supplement industry has proliferated especially over the last couple of years. Over the last quarter of a decade, the industry has grown by more than 4 billion dollars. This growth, by all accounts, is only expected to grow because people are beginning to pay more and more attention to their bodies.
However, as with every good thing, there arise some problems. The explosion of the industry has seen a lot of counterfeit and detrimental supplement products make their way into the market. The manufacturers of the said products, by all accounts, do not seem to care about the health and safety of the people that use the products.
This has seen a lot of health non-profit organizations and health care individuals call for the government to increase the regulations that are applied to the supplement industry. It all makes sense to do so.
This is not to say that there is no form of regulation when it comes to dietary supplements. That is far from the truth. The Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 was put into place in order to regulate the supplement industry.
The DSHEA, as it is commonly referred to as, gives a lot of leeway to the supplement manufacturers to research and make their products. There is little oversight on their part. Some of the rules and regulations that have been put into place with regards to the DSHEA, the Food and Drugs Authority, and the supplement manufactures are a testament to this.
For example, supplements that were already marketed before the DSHEA came into being in 1994 do not need any form of approval from the FDA to market, or continue marketing, their products. Moreover, ingredients that have not been grandfathered in, that is to say, were not formed before 1994, or are not based form supplements that were formed before 1994, even though they need FDA approval and review, they can start marketing the products without or before they get the approval.
It is as clear as day that the DSHEA has been more than lenient with supplement manufacturers, and that is the reason why a lot of counterfeit and detrimental supplements have made their way into the market, and thus why a lot of people are calling for more stringent measures to be put in place.
The arguments for the reasons as to why stricter rules and regulations should be put in place include the fact that the DSHEA has, over the years, allowing a myriad of unproven products to make their way into the market without testing for their efficiency and effectiveness.
Supplement manufacturers, because of the Act, are under no obligation to show that the products they are making are safe for the consumption of the general public.
Moreover, regulatory agencies are left powerless by the Act, meaning that they cannot disapprove of supplement companies, and thus all they can do is try and educate the public about the inefficiency of certain products.
What should be done?
It is clear that the supplement manufacturers owe a duty of care to their clients. However, in the event that they do not fulfill it, or do not meet the standard of care, the DSHEA is not doing much when it comes to regulating them, and this is hurting the consumers and the manufacturers of legitimate dietary supplements alike.
So, what should be done?
The DSHEA should ensure that the supplement products in the market are labeled and the ingredients used to make them disclosed, as is the case with medication. It should also ensure that sufficient tests are used to ascertain the effectiveness and efficiency of the supplements, and ensure that there are no contaminants and undisclosed ingredients in them.
Additionally, the DSHEA should make sure that they limit manufacturers from making unfounded claims about their products, even in trade puffs. If all this is done, then the DSHEA will be able to improve the confidence of the customers in the effectiveness and efficiency of the supplements that they are taking.
The Kratom Customer Protective Act can be used as a guiding light when enacting all the said changes. However, it should also be noted that even though it is clear that the regulations that govern supplements should be strengthened, this should not mean that the FDA should be given omnipotent power.
The FDA has a history of targeting legitimate business and product manufacturers solely based on prejudice. Ergo, the DSHEA should ensure that supplement manufacturers and the products they make are protected from things such as adverse actions and seizures from the Food and Drug Authority. This is so long as the said manufacturers are legitimate, their products have been tried and tested, that they meet all the revised requirements.
If all the said revised requirements are met, then you bank on it that the supplement industry will not only continue to grow but that flourish while also providing the nutritional needs for its clientele.